In my previous post, I discussed a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court this fall regarding the refusal of a Christian to actively support homosexual “marriage.” Given the Court’s current makeup and the rulings of lower courts, it is almost certain that SCOTUS will rule against the Christian in this case, which will have far-reaching legal implications for other Christians in the United States. Now another troubling case seems certain to head to the Supreme Court, following President Trump’s ban on “transgender” individuals from service in the U.S. military. In spite of the fact that this ban was in place without a legal challenge up until October of last year, it seems possible that the Supreme Court will rule that discrimination against people who identify as “transgender” is somehow unconstitutional. Such a ruling would have a wide-ranging effect that would surely put greater legal pressure on churches and other Christian institutions to compromise. Perhaps the only thing that could weaken the Court’s position is the fact that allowing the participation of men in women’s sports as “transgender women” would make it impossible for female athletes to compete.
While there is still some uncertainty regarding these rulings and their effects, it has been apparent for decades that American culture is becoming progressively more anti-Christian, leading to increasing legal and cultural pressures on Christians. It has become increasingly apparent that a large number of people on the American political Left believe that those who hold opposing viewpoints should not be tolerated and should not even have a legal right to exist. These Leftists control much of academia, the media, and the corporate world. Their agenda is increasingly coming into the church, which means that the church does not present unified opposition to the Leftist agenda. A recent poll showed that 47 percent of young white American evangelicals believe that homosexual “marriage” should be legal; the question of whether homosexual acts should be legal does not even get asked because it is assumed that nearly everyone would say they should be. It is evident that at some point Leftists will gain enough power to fully implement their agenda, which is particularly aimed at destroying conservative, biblical Christianity for its moral values and theological dogma. Exactly when and how this will happen is not known, but in general the Left only needs control of a single branch of government to advance its agenda.
Perhaps the crisis will hit this fall, after the Court’s ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop (if that is indeed what happens). Or perhaps it will come more gradually, given that there is now a Republican president, a Republican Congress, and Republican control of most state governments. Perhaps the crisis will hit at different times for Christians who live in different states or who engage in different occupations. But the fact that only one Christian was imprisoned for refusing to sign marriage licenses for homosexual couples should be of no comfort, since the rest of us who hold the same convictions would also have been imprisoned if we had been in the same situation. It should be remembered that Kim Davis’ imprisonment was actually celebrated by then-President Obama, the mainstream media, technology executives, and large numbers of their supporters on the political Left. They made it clear that they want all who hold opposing views to be forced to recant, or to be removed from society if they refuse to renounce their beliefs. When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, in particular, no opposing viewpoints are tolerated. The fact that this attitude is considered the politically correct attitude should certainly give pause to Christians in the United States.
Given the clear direction of the political and religious situation in the United States, it is completely befuddling that American Christians, their churches, and other Christian institutions have made no plans whatsoever for what to do when the crisis hits. There is no biblical justification for lack of foresight or preparation. Of course Christians should pray and speak out, but the Bible does not promise the church protection from persecution. So far, the church’s response has been (1) to pray that the U.S. would get “turned around”; (2) to be socially and politically active in order to “take the culture back”; or (3) “they’ll just have to put us in jail.” There really has been no forward thinking or facing of the facts. American churches have also done little or nothing to enable persecuted Christians in other countries to migrate to safer places.
In the book of Acts, we find that when Christians were forced to leave their comfort zone in Jerusalem due to persecution, the subsequent scattering of Christians throughout the world turned out to be good for the growth of the church (Acts 8:4). It forced Christians to spread out to the world when they would not go voluntarily to do missionary work. In the American context, ministries which have an overseas arm could potentially transfer their assets to their foreign headquarters before they are seized by the U.S. government or lost in lawsuits. There are ample historical examples of Christians fleeing persecution as a group and establishing new Christian communities in foreign countries. Church historians tell us that all the Christians in Jerusalem fled the city together just before the outbreak of the Jewish War in AD 66; they survived the war by relocating their community to the Gentile city of Pella. Many of the early settlers in the United States itself were fleeing persecution in Europe and were searching for a place where they could worship God freely according to their conscience.
I believe it is time for the American church to start making serious plans to move their institutions, their money, and ultimately their people, overseas in anticipation of the inevitable outlawing of biblical Christianity in the United States. Churches should also prepare to move from one country to another as the world changes. The solution is not political activism, which will not reverse the long-term cultural trend, or revolution, which is both futile and unbiblical. Seeing as we have been given a legal reprieve through the election of a Republican president, Christian organizations and seminaries should start establishing overseas headquarters or campuses, and they should make plans to move all their assets overseas if necessary before they are confiscated. While such projects as new buildings on a seminary or church campus, the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, and the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. are worthy and valuable, it is very questionable how long these institutions will be able to operate before the government institutes requirements with which they cannot comply. Why not invest overseas? Christians should especially look to invest in the Middle East, which the Bible reveals is the focus of end time events. Africa is another place in which the church is under-invested, in spite of containing many Christian-friendly countries. Latin America is an easier and closer place for Americans to go, although the level of religious freedom in Latin American countries varies and has been decreasing.
A parallel could be drawn between the situation of Christians in present-day America and the situation of Jews in Germany in the 1930s. As the Nazi party rose to power, their intentions to persecute and kill Jews became ever clearer, yet only some Jews fled, or were able to flee, and some waited until it was very late in the game. Those who remained suffered terribly. Hitler would have killed every last Jew in Europe had the Allies not liberated his concentration camps (in God’s providence). Overall, one could say that the Jewish community in Germany, and in Europe as a whole, lacked any sort of master plan to enable them all to flee before Hitler’s pogrom began. Nor is it disingenuous to make a comparison to the Holocaust: there have been many times and places from the first century up to the present day in which governments have attempted to exterminate all Bible-believing Christians and churches using the most horrific imaginable means of torture and mass murder. The Bible makes clear that Christians will again be terribly persecuted at the end of the present age (Rev 17:6; 18:24; 19:2).
The problem for the church in the United States is not just legal pressure, but also cultural assimilation. The church has for a long time been losing its young people to the allures of American culture, while those who have stayed in the church have adopted many of the culture’s beliefs and practices in contradiction of biblical teaching. On the other hand, it could be argued that Christians are still having a significant restraining influence in American culture and politics, and that they should largely stay put while they are still able to have this influence. While there is room for debate regarding when it will be appropriate or necessary for Christians to make the uncomfortable decision to migrate from the United States, it should be apparent that that day will come, and it is therefore wise to prepare for it.